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Everything posted by estufarian

  1. Just got back from Chicago and was amazed at this discussion. Shortly before we went had a pine sorbet in a Toronto restaurant. It was awful - couldn't finish it. In Chicago, ate at Trio. Had the dish under discussion 'Sautéed Frog Legs w forest vegetables and evergreen vapor'. It was superb. Tied with one other dish for the best of the evening. The dominant flavors (and aromas) were the mushrooms (particularly morels). The secondary aromas were the 'forest' hints, But I hardly noticed pine - it was more cedar and spruce. The flavours and textures were more earthy (than trees) and the frog 'nuggets' worked perfectly adding some chewy texture which picked up the morels. And it included veggies such as ramp. A great dish, perfectly executed. So the 'pine' was irrelevant in these two dishes. One soared, the other sucked!
  2. Don't worry too much. The storage conditions will probably have more effect then the bottler. I stumbled over 4 different bottlings of 1970 Fonseca, and eventually rounded up 6 different bottlers. At a blind tasting ALL were great, but there were some differences. One of the bottlings (English) stood out - more evolved and complex. One was definitely worse, dusty and tired (possibly the cork, not the bottler) and the other 4 were almost tied in total scores. The Oporto bottling was in the middle group. I discussed the tasting with the late Bruce Guimaraens, and asked whether Fonseca had investigated the effect of 'early' bottling (e.g. bottling the 70 early in 72) vs late bottling (e.g. at end of 72). He suggested this was a little academic - they bottled when the winery workers weren't doing much else, so had the time to be in the bottling area!
  3. estufarian

    Birthday Wine Dinner

    My calculator indicates that you were part of the 1955 vintage. An appropriate drinking wine would be a vintage port. The 55's are mostly still drinking well and almost affordable. The 1955 Martinez is one of my all-time favourite ports.
  4. estufarian


    Didn't mean to impugn your tasting ability in any way. Your original note mentioned smooth (in particular) and the Colheita had a distinct vanilla creamy component that I would describe as 'smooth'. It was also rich and showed fruit, especially in the finish, although more nuts, coffee and toffee in the mid-palate. I used the Indian spice contrast for comparison purposes, as that was the major difference I identified. But this is only a hint of spice, not anything approaching a 'curry wine'. I also found the alcohol more apparent in the Boa Vista. Unfortunately, my bottles were both emptied, so I'll have to reacquire the Colheita - I still have some of the Boa Vista (unopened). Both were excellent prices. You might also want to try one (some?) of the Late Bottled Vintage (LBV) ports available (these are bottled 4-6 years after the harvest). At around $15-20 (depending on the brand) they are a good alternative and cheaper! And my 'hint of the month'. In the May Vintages release is a Madeira (5 yr old from Broadbent). It's around $26 and is a superb wine. Sweet - comparable to a port, but a much longer shelf life when opened. Will last for months (ports start to decline after weeks, possibly days if older wines). Trust me and crack a bottle early. If you like it go back for more. In a tasting last year I ranked this almost on a par with wines (both port and madeira) costing over $100 (one over $200). Here's the notes I made when I tasted it Reserve 5 yr old Madeira, Broadbent Medium orange/tawny colour with a definite green rim (usually a sign of good madeira). Tangerine peel on the nose. Taste starts with marmalade, some evidence of soft tannins but wrapped in vanilla. A voluptuous wine with a very long finish. At $21 Cdn (the estimated landed cost at the time) this wine is a bargain. This proves conclusively that tinta negra mole is an underrated grape when well made. If this wine had the magic words bual or malmsey on it, it would cost far more.
  5. estufarian


    Marlene, Your mention of 'Vintages' confirms your Ontario status. And the good news is that the 87 Offley is (possibly) still available. In fact it's available twice! To explain, Offley produced both a vintage port and a 'colheita' port in 87. The 'vintage' is what most people assumed in their responses. Bottled in 90 and aged in bottle. However the 'colheita' was aged in oak barrels and bottled more recently. As a member of a secret society, whose name can only be whispered - and only then when Port is open (shh - if nobody is around it's the Baron de Forrester Memorial Society - and he was a principal in Offley Forrester) we try every Offley port - and recently compared the two. Surprisingly, we all preferred the Colheita and your tasting note is more similar to my notes on that. It was released in Sept 2002 at $26.85, product code 990630. And a bargain at that price. The vintage port had more Indian spices; cloves and cumin. Different strokes etc - but worth a try. It can be identified as it is called 'Offley Boa Vista' 1987. It cost $39.80 with product code 975102. Call the LCBO Infoline to see if the colheita is still available anywhere near you. And coming out later this year in Vintages is the Vintage 2000 Offley (around $60). I've tasted it and it's well worth laying down.
  6. At both Trotter and Trio most guests 'dress up'. Most men wear ties. But in both places I've dined with a jacket and no tie and had impeccable service. Trotter is better for 'intimate' dining. You're flattered and exquisitely served. For an anniversary or birthday I'd choose that. Trio is more exciting. It's where you go on a hot date. Both are exceptional dining experiences. Currently I'd choose Trio for the 'new experience'. It's more exciting. But Trotter has provided better all around meals in the past. His wine and food matches are impeccable. He'll change the saucing on a dish if he knows that a special wine is being served. You can't go wrong with either. I'd choose them as my Nos 1 & 2 in Chicago.
  7. I tried to find artisinal chocolate for a seminar as part of a large wine event. Even managed to track down a (former) producer. Apparently the practical limitation is the exporting/importing process. Theoretically the beans are available but quality control is a nightmare. Infestations of various bugglies are rife in the trade. This means you need quality control prior to export - to ensure the quality is there. But, for a potential small importer this is totally uneconomic. So what we end up with is a few large companies who have their representatives doing quality control at the producer/wholesaler site before export. Even a 'large run' won't protect against an infested batch of beans that has to be dumped. So artisinal producers now buy slabs or pellets from a few wholesalers who have partially processed the bean.
  8. No self respecting Canadian restaurant would be caught without them. One of the signs of spring here (but no sign yet).
  9. You're not alone. See 'elBullihotel' near Seville that is the first of a chain of '5 or 6 hotels' (not all in Spain) that (will) 'reproduce some of the best recipes created by the El Bulli restaurant team'. The article I read (in SpainGourmeTour) specifically mentioned Gaudi-style red mullet (1982), Breaded sardines with deconstructed picada sauce (2000), Basil-Aromatized lobster gazpacho (1989) and Bresse pigeon with blackberries and anis-flavored salad (1997).
  10. estufarian


    Glad you got the reference. Indeed madeira is my favourite wine (hence the nametag). I guess it's also a propos that someone with your surname would notice it. And Bartholomew Broadbent has his own company (who do indeed produce 'modern' Madeiras). The Rare Wine Company works directly with contacts on the island.
  11. estufarian


    Material on Madeira (in English) is pretty sparse. The most widely available book is Madeira, by Alex Liddell (published by Faber & Faber) but it doesn't have too much on the history in US. However there are many references in the Bibliography. The best book (IMO), but now out of print (although I have seen it in used book stores) is 'Madeira the island vineyard' by Noel Cossart, published by Christie's Wine Publications in 1984. It has a chapter on Madeira in north America. There are also some articles around that describe the Madeira gatherings in the 19th century in the US. These are more sociological than historical and may be worth while searching for. The one around most recently was 'Our Madeira Heritage' by F William Sunderman, and it includes a reprinting of 'A Madeira Party' from 1895. It was published in 1979 by the Institute for Clinical Science in Philadelphia! The best source of material (and old madeira wine) in the US is the Rare Wine Company in Sonoma. They currently have a book for sale (on their web site) called 'A Century Past (Madeira in America)'. I haven't read this. And don't believe the oft-repeated story that the taste of madeira wine comes from the 7 year fire that burned all the trees on madeira island. Just stand on the top of the island for a few hours to discredit it!
  12. I think we're too hung up on labels. Of course Trio shows an evolution from 'classic' technique (usually referred to as French). But so did the 'cuisine minceur' so fashionable 20+ years ago but virtually ignored today (and still going strong at Eugenie-les-Bains). And then we had pacific rim and fusion. I'm sure we can all recall both good and bad in these categories. The use of fresh, preferably local, ingredients is what was done for generations all over the world - without refrigeration there was no choice. Alice Waters didn't 'discover' this, although her influence should never be underestimated. And if a chef chooses to use 'single cow butter' (or equivalent), is that an innovation, a return to home(farm) cooking or pretentious? No matter what we call it, it's what's on the plate (and in the sensory orifices) that matters. Technology (and inspiration) have added new possibilities. RyneSchraw's notes (in particular) clearly describe the food and style. Let's not overanalyze - just enjoy. What we have here is a talented chef with a passion. Is this the 'next level'? Does it matter? Let's just enjoy it - what more could a chef ask for? And on that subject, when I tried to reserve recently for the Kitchen Table, and mentioned this forum (OK I only mentioned it after finding out that the table was already booked so I was desperate for an edge as I'm only in Chicago for a couple of days), I was told that I was only the second person to 'identify' themselves as having read this forum - presumably RyneSchraw was the first. And this is a return trip for me. Where are all you other readers who are going to try Trio? And I immediately apologise to all of you who have reserved anonymously.
  13. The Ontario climate is perfectly suited to Riesling. I think it's consistently been their best grape variety. But the sad thing is - it just doesn't sell. So we get 'hundreds' of watered down chardonnays instead - which are 'usually' inferior to the cheaper imports. In quality terms, there are some that compare favourably to the 'fringe' Burgundy styles (excluding the Cote d'Or), and also Chablis styles, but too often they're overoaked. Still, there seem to be some good examples of gewurztraminer surfacing too, so there's still hope that eventually Ontario will find the varietals best suited to the climate and geography. There may yet be an upside to the extreme cold weather that has recently killed some of the warmer weather suited vines. Realistically, fine wine production is barely 25 years old here so there's still time. Maybe the forthcoming world-wide overproduction will force us to specialize in the areas where quality is paramount.
  14. I really appreciate your response. I feel sorry for the diners who will now miss a spectacular dish. But it did interfere with the experience and I agree totally with your practical 'solution'.
  15. As introduction, we dined at Trio last summer - we just prefer multi-course meals; weren't cognisant of the philosophy (before we went). But, of course, it was a wonderful voyage. If we had known more we would certainly have ordered the accompanying wines, but were nervous about the pairings and structure (my review at the time accknowleged our error). Having followed this discussion we now know much more about how and why the sequence of dishes was determined and why it was so satisfying. BUT - my major concern (both at the time and now) was the 'Rosemary Vapor'. It works spectacularly with that dish, but I also had to deal with it on a half dozen other occasions when surrounding diners had this same dish later in the evening (we were the earliest diners). It interfered with these dishes so I'm sure I didn't get the intended experience. I wish I could suggest a solution (at the time I felt that the addition of the hot water was 'overkill' as the aromas were quite dominant even before the water was poured). Other than private booths, any possible solutions or implications for this (and any 'aroma-based' dishes)?
  16. Comments all-round here. Rahier provides the quintessential 'French' experience - including attitude. I'll stop if there's both a parking place and no line-up, but otherwise go elsewhere. Yes, the croissants are great, but don't erase the nasty taste in your mouth from the attitude. Incidentally they do sometimes have 'special' items in the back - they keep the mini-tarts back there that used to be displayed out front. I guess the profits on the large tarts are better. Fleur de Lys - agree, generally OK but not worth a detour. But if you're there try the meringues, particularly the passion fruit. Dufflet - mass production of course, but still the best mass-produced around. Sen5ses - Now closed - but they claim they'll reopen elsewhere. And one not mentioned Fabians Konditorei (on Markham Road, N of Lawrence). Has the best German-style pastries (all the above being french).
  17. estufarian

    Susur Lee

    The best area of the wine list is the Alsace and Loire sections. Susur's food has pure flavours and usually reacts well to these wines. I've found any of Pinot Gris, Gewurztraminer and Riesling go well - even better if there's a hint of residual sugar. This should work for all but the 'main course' which, bizarrely, is served at the beginning of the tasting menu. I know that's his 'signature' style, but it just doesn't work with wine. So have a glass of a light red as well if you like. Selection by the glass isn't extensive (around 10 selections total). Although I recommend the tasting menu (he'll serve mostly different courses if two people order the tasting menu), I've had great success with ordering 3 or 4 appetizers per person and skipping the main course. That makes the wine selection easier too. And the best wine match I ever had was a slightly sweet German riesling - matched his food perfectly, but had disappeared last time I was there.
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